Academic boycott – failure of BDS – loss of Palestinian jobs

The student newspaper of Edinburgh University (The Student, Tuesday 3 November 2015)  recently carried a report on the public pledge signed by UK academics to boycott Israeli universities. The piece offered reasonably balanced student and academic opinion about the matter, and included comment from both the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and the Union of Jewish Students (UJS).

The pledge of the UK academics doubtless brought enthusiastic applause across Edinburgh campuses, not least among local supporters of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC). However, let us get this all into perspective. Based on the number of academics and universities reported on, a mere 6-7 academics in each of the 72 universities appear to have actually signed the public pledge, according to the report. Since there are something like 109 university institutions across the UK, with 90-odd in England alone, and since the returns of the Higher Education Statistics Agency tell us that there were 194,245 UK academic staff in 2013-2014, the level of response must surely be read as a dismal failure of the much-lauded ‘latest salvo in the broader Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign’.

It is always possible that the intentions of those 400 out of 190,000 or so academics are positive ones and completely devoid of bigotry, and simply the expression of a desire to ‘help’ Palestinians against particular Israeli policy, perceived policy, or set of Israeli behaviours. However, when there are no comparable boycott campaigns to exclude any other states based on this or that – when Israel is regarded almost as ‘the’ singular evil – then alarm bells ought to start ringing.

Why the focus on Israel? Why no criticism of Egypt for its demolition of houses in Gaza to make way for a barrier? Why is there not even a whimper, not a petition, not a protest, when Palestinians suffer in their thousands in Syria? Why no boycott of China (a country that ‘disappears’ dissenting Tibetans) or Russia for human rights abuses? Or of Myanmar for its treatment of the Rohingya community? Why no focus on the many states where freedom of the press and freedom of speech are lacking? Or of those where there is no functioning legal system? Why no focus on those countries where trade unions and political parties are illegal? Why no focus on countries where there is no democracy? Why no pressure on Palestinian leaderships to dump ‘rejectionism’ and become the actors in a conflict it is within their power to resolve?

Exclusive focus on Jewish Israel for boycott, will normalise Jews across the world as suitable targets for exclusion and punishment. If we can anthropomorphise things a bit, and look at Israel as a student playing in a playground of countries; if we then witnessed a teaching assistant look out the window to watch bullying students terrorising their classmates, and then yank inside for detention the Jewish kid trying to defend him or herself, then we’d want to start asking questions. We’d smell a vague whiff of bigotry.

The piece in The Student noted that the move by academics was ‘hailed by Palestinian rights groups’ and that their pledge ‘was lauded by Palestinian advocacy organisations’. Qatari-born Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and founding member of the BDS movement, and who has attended Tel Aviv University (can anyone else see the irony of that one) will doubtless have hailed and lauded the academics. But, what about the Palestinian Government? Has it hailed and lauded the UK academic boycott? Isn’t it the case that the Palestinian Government is disparaging of the BDS movement, and doesn’t believe that it serves the interests of the Palestinian people?

Though skilled at offering one view to Arab audiences and another to non-Arabic-speaking audiences, even Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the boycotting of Israel. Indeed, Palestinian infrastructural decision-making also tells a story far from supportive of BDS. For example, the first buyer of natural gas from Israel’s largest gas field in the Mediterranean will be the Palestine Power Generation Company (PPGC) which supplies power to Palestinian areas in the West Bank. PPGC will buy around $1.2-billion worth of gas over 20-years. The Israeli Leviathan Group will sell the PPGC as much as 4.75-billion cubic metres of gas when the Leviathan product begins to flow in 2016 or 2017. The Palestinian company aims to build a $300-million power plant in the West bank city of Jenin to produce electricity from the gas.

It would seem that local Palestinian economic policy is at odds with the shrill calls from distant Europe. Indeed, Professor Jonathan Rosenhead of the London School of Economics has made himself heard through the clamour. He tells The Student that if Israel continues with its policies ‘there are consequences’ and ‘Israel in the end will feel some of the disadvantages which Palestinians already have’. Really?

Isn’t it the case that BDS actions also have consequences, and add to Palestinian disadvantage? Didn’t the movement recently wreck Palestinian job opportunities? Didn’t the successful Israeli Sodastream business leave the West Bank for a new and larger plant at Rahat in the Negev Desert as a result of BDS activity? This action had the consequence of offering more jobs for Israelis and losing 500 Palestinians their employment in the West Bank. Sodastream had been paying them at Israeli wage levels, and had provided private health insurance. The producer of the Bagel-Bagel snack and a global producer of locks – Abloy – also left the West Bank for Israel proper once BDS got stuck in. More jobs for Israelis. Nice one BDS! Always doing something to help Palestine!

While BDS loses Palestinians their jobs, Jordanians are flocking to neighbouring Israel for employment (again, can anyone see the irony of that). This year, just like last year, some 1,500 Jordanian workers are being recruited in three groups of 500 to work in the busy Eilat hotel industry. Israeli Eilat lies adjacent to Jordanian Aqaba in the southern Negev at the top of the Gulf of Eilat, the same stretch of water that laps the beaches of Sharm El-Sheikh. Imagine what a peace treaty like the one between Israel and Jordan could do for Palestinians? Over to you Mr. Abbas.

As the BDS movement continues to show gross failure and incompetence, it is the 189,600 or so UK academics not signing the public pledge to boycott Israeli universities who will be seen to have stood on the right side of history.

Advertisements

BDS, Suha Arafat, and some Jewish history

Small deluded groups of leftist opinion formers in western countries (e.g. the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign) continue in their efforts to discredit Israel and to institute boycott, disinvestment and sanctions against the country. Meanwhile, Jordanian-born Suha Arafat (born in Jerusalem under the Jordanian administration, and widow of deceased Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, who was born in Egypt) has instead stated that the time had come for the region’s Arabs to recognise the state of Israel, and that armed struggle to eliminate the Jewish state’s existence was no longer plausible.

Arafat has said that Arabs had to ‘clearly express […] recognition of Israel’. Further, she said that ‘no one can doubt its existence’. What she did not however say was whether or not she thought Israel had a RIGHT to exist… only that it DOES exist. The remarks had come on the tenth anniversary of her husband’s death last November 2014.

She had also expressed dismay at Hamas, and how the terror group had attacked Fatah leaders and buildings after its takeover of the Gaza Strip. Further, she said that Hamas was ruining the futures of Gaza youth, and committing ‘genocide’ upon its own people. The Hamas-generation has grown up with violence, without education, and with emigration as their only hope. She hoped that Hamas would finally understand that it should work towards peace.

While Arafat’s input was a milestone, Israeli officials speak about the need for Palestinians to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. Doing so would recognise the state’s long-term sovereignty and permanence.

Israelis have a number of reasons for demanding their country be recognised as their national homeland. For the Jews, Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jews means the end of the conflict. They want to be sure that a Palestinian state bordering on Israel is the Palestinians’ final demand and that they accept the fact of Israel’s existence.

In some ways too the deluded European and North American BDS-ers also need to accept that fact of Israel’s existence, and to acknowledge that the State of Israel is simply not going to melt away. Boycotting Israel, whose agencies, institutions, universities, and laboratories have been responsible for so many Nobel Prizes and the creation of stunning advances for the good of us all, will not reduce Israeli academic nor military excellence. In boycotting Israel, the people likely to suffer most will be the thousands of Palestinian breadwinners who currently work in Israel’s factories and fields, both in Israel itself and in the West Bank.

The deluded also have to accept some historical facts, study a bit of Jewish history, and research with a great more depth the origin of the ‘Palestinians’ to whom they offer succour.

Firstly, in spite of the ancient Assyrian, Babylonian, and Roman exiles endured by many Jews of the region, Jews have nevertheless had a continuous presence there for thousands of years (particularly in Jerusalem, Safed and Tiberias). Indeed, Jewish history and Jews themselves have a presence in the Holy Koran as well as in the Old and New Testaments.

Secondly, it was the Romans who first applied the name Palestine (Palestina) to the region around 70AD – around the time that they destroyed the Jewish Temple in the renamed Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem) – but it was not at that time a home to the Arabs whose universe at this point was still the Arabian Peninsula. Neither was Palestine a name that the later Ottomans would adopt, as their own imperial system used the ‘vilayet’ and ‘sanjak’ administrative system. They knew the region as composed of the Vilayet of Beirut, the Vilayet of Syria and the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem or Sanjak of Jerusalem. European Christians (i.e. the Church of Rome) however would continue to use the Roman name of Palestine… hence our modern attachment to the name.

Thirdly, the Arab ancestors of today’s Moslems in the region only swept in during the 7th century AD and with the imperialist expansion of Islam. Fast forward to the 20th century and to the British presence in ‘Palestine’ (the name of the region applied by the Romans, but ignored by the Ottomans), reference was always made to the Moslem ‘Arabs’ and to the ‘Palestinian’ Jews… the Palestinians were the Jews, the ‘Arabs’ were the Moslems (indeed, the anti-Israeli BDS-er need only refer to English language newspapers of the period to read this for themselves). Then, post-1948, and right through to the Six Day 1967 and the Yom Kippur 1972 and a bit afterwards, references were always to the Jewish-Arab conflict, never to the Jewish-Palestinian conflict.

Fourthly, not all of the diverse Arab populations of Judea, Samaria and Gaza have lived in these areas for the many generations and the many centuries that many voices urge us to believe. Either they came with invading armies, or were imported as cheap labour by the Turks and British, or wanted to profit from the economic advances made by the Jews who had been returning to rebuild their homeland since the 18th century (returning to an empty and barren landscape). Others fled to Palestine from neighbouring Arab countries. While these same voices mock the dual-passport-holding modern Israeli, they ignore the dual-passport-holding Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza many of whom have relatives in Israel, some in Jordan, some in Lebanon, some in Egypt, some in Europe and North America.

Prince Charles avoids a visit to Israel… reflects Brit attitude to Israel… Brits still stinging and humiliated… Brit elites loathe the upstart…

Israel remains one of the few countries in the World that the British royal family has never officially visited. And, in visit to the Middle East which is taking in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and the UAE, but not Israel, this is still true for Prince Charles. Although brow-furrowed and anxious to hear about the plight of Christians in the Middle East during his visit to Jordan, Prince Charles showed himself unwilling to visit the one country in the Middle East where Christians and other minority groups in the region can find safe haven – Israel, just a short jet hop from Amman. His visit to the monarchs of the Middle East takes place just after a poll which showed that Brits regarded Israel less favourably than any other country besides North Korea.

This poll result wouldn’t have come as a shock to Israelis or supporters of Israel of course. Why? Because British supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement are in every university campus, and blood libels about the Palestinian ‘genocide’ and even Israeli organ-harvesting have been heard from the floor of the House of Lords in the Brit parliament (Baroness Tonge). Although Jews are deeply integrated into British society and have felt secure for decades, incidents of anti-semitic violence have been escalating, and anti-semitism has become interwoven and often indistinguishable from anti-Zionism (being anti-Israeli). Statistics show that anti-semitic incidents have increased and that, for Jews, Britain is changing for the worse.
Why is there such the animosity against Israel, an animosity that ranges across the spectrum from left to right and all social classes? These are questions that have been tackled in this blog before but it will do no harm to retrace the ground (see ‘Brits and Israel’, posted 12 December 2012… solidariyut.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/brits-and-israel/). In 2012, we posed the question: Why is the British relationship with Israel such a sour one?

To find an answer, we looked first at the British government attitude, but the wider British establishment has to be examined. In other words, to find an answer, look not just at elite figures in government over the past 80-odd years, but to those who have guided elite schools and universities and idea-forming industries like the media. Elites in these spheres have never really recovered from the loss of the Empire, and then the loss of the word ‘British’ that used to stand before the word ‘Commonwealth’. These elites have never come to grips with how the Empire was lost, and the loss of what, in their view, ‘ought to’ have been theirs.

If the loss of the Indian Sub-continent in 1947 was not bad enough, and barely 2-years after VJ-day, what really rankled was the loss in 1948 of tiny Palestine which a British garrison of 100,000 was unable to hold. If the loss of Empire was not bad enough, losing Palestine to the Jews was a humiliation.

Between 1945 and 1947 alone, UK forces and police lost 103 dead, and sustained 391 wounded. Indeed, the destruction by Jewish militants of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem – the seat of British military and administrative power in Palestine – resonated strongly for decades. In 1947, after two British sergeants were killed in retaliation for the execution of three Jewish militants, there were anti-Jewish riots in Liverpool over the course of several days, and these spread to other British cities, including London, Manchester, Cardiff, Derby and Glasgow. Some months after the declaration of the independence of the State of Israel which occurred in May 1948 – and during the course of Israel’s war of independence against the forces of the Arab League – British policy towards Israel was shouted loud and clear. Not content with simply encouraging Arab states to invade the fledgling State of Israel, the Defence elites made sure that Royal Air Force conducted reconnaissance flights over Israeli positions, taking off from Egyptian air bases. Indeed, some of these flights were conducted alongside Egyptian planes. There is little doubt that once home again after their humiliation by pre-state Israel, senior UK military personnel, through the Ministry of Defence, had influenced government attitudes to the new state and these would persist until 1956 and the Suez Crisis.

The landed classes and British industrialists have also harboured animosity towards Israel. In the decades before 1948 and Israeli independence there had existed ‘sympathy’ towards the Arab and ‘sourness’ towards the upstart ‘yishuv’ (the Jewish population of pre-state Israel). Among the well-healed travellers of the rich ‘old money’ and the commercial ‘new money’ there was deep regard and respect for the complicated tribal hierarchy of ‘the Arab’ (the same hierarchy that Prince Charles is said to feel at home among and at the same time rather awkward among). The Arab world offered exotic adventure and opportunity, and in the emerging post-war world Arab society offered the sophisticated class layering and deference that was so very familiar. In academia, the old British ‘Arabists’ expressed similar affection for these heirarchies. In contrast, across the earlier ‘yishuv’ and in the nascent Israeli state, a vibrant social democracy was emerging – a new society where these complicated social layers were largely absent.

Another reason for the sour British attitude to Israel is the gradual conversion of the British labour movement to the Palestinian cause. Until the 1960s the British labour movement regarded Israel as a fellow socialist state with anti-imperialist leanings. They admired the short-sleeved, open-necked-shirt-wearing Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and his down-to-earth non-deferential fellow Ministers who would form later Israeli governments. By 1967, the year in which the USA began to take Israel seriously after its June War victory, and to regard the tiny country as a substantial ally, the USA had become deeply embroiled in its escalation of the Vietnam War. And so it was that in the eyes of the labour movement, Israel, after briefly enjoying the status of victim triumphant, began to be viewed through a new frame of reference. The newer and younger liberal and left both in the UK and wider Europe identified with the emerging Palestinian national movement and with the continuing anti-colonial struggle (e.g. in Vietnam, South Africa and Rhodesia), and there was seen a deepening hostility towards Israel, now always to be viewed as a lynchpin ally of the USA. Today in the 21st century there isn’t a UK university campus that does not have a strident pro-Palestine solidarity committee, its members richly swathed in Palestinian scarves often expressing a hatred towards Israel and its Jewish character that would have made Goebbels proud.

Among British Christians too there is a sour and shaky relationship with Israel. Many have been taken in by the Yasser Arafat line that Jesus Christ (you know… the Judean, born in Bethlehem of Judea, and who died many decades before the Roman name of Palestine was applied to the region) was a ‘Palestinian martyr’. They have thrown in their lot with the Palestinian line, totally blind to the oppression of Christians in the West Bank and in Gaza, and blind to the fact that Israel’s minority population of Christians is the only one showing expansion in the whole of the eastern Mediterranean.

Alongside the Arafat tale about Jesus of Nazareth, the ‘Palestinian martyr’, the Palestinian Christians have re-invented traditional Christian anti-semitism, converting Israelis into Romans and themselves into the new Jews. The Anglican Church and the Church of Scotland – the latter having published a document in 2003 entitled ‘Theology of Land and Covenant’ which questioned Jewish claims to the land of Israel, and in 2014 chose to suggest that Jews think of Zion as merely a metaphor – have been re-invigorated by this (having seen themselves in slow decline) and each has contributed to, if not helped lead, the BDS movement in the UK.

Then there is the rather large elephant in the room in this analysis of why Brits are sour towards Israel – Britain’s Moslems… or… rather… the role of Moslems in this climate that does not favour Israel. Recent history has provided the UK with a population which is 5% Moslem, and in the 21st century Moslems are at the forefront of anti-semitic agitation in the country and maintain a large network of organisations to support BDS and the Palestinian and Islamist causes. An ever increasing Moslem population ensures that political establishments will adopt voter-friendly anti-Israeli rhetoric and policies.

The British attitude to Israel is coloured by what the nascent State of Israel did to it in the 1940s, political correctness and guilt, and a media that likes to focus relentlessly on Israeli wrongdoing, real and imagined, while glossing over those of its neighbours.

Mahmoud Abbas said that he doesn’t support the boycott of Israel: Chew on that SPSC !!!

In previous posting, this blog has suggested that activist groups like the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) are far more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves. Some of the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigning which it supports has led to the loss of jobs for Palestinians in the West Bank and the creation of job-opportunities for Israelis in Israel instead. An example of this was the de-camp of Unilever and its ‘Bagel-Bagel’ factory from the West Bank to the ancient Jewish town of Safed in the Northern District of Israel, and of Sweden’s ‘Mul-T-Lock’ firm which followed suit and moved its factory to Yavneh in the Central District of Israel. Now it appears that Mahmoud Abbas himself believes that BDS activists like the SPSC are a threat to Palestinian interests and that he does not support the boycott of Israel.

While regarding themselves as noble fighters in a worthy cause, activists of the BDS movement on university campuses across North America, Europe and Australia, are seen simply as trouble-makers and law-breakers by the Palestinian Authority (PA). For some PA officials, BDS is a movement that acts against the true interests of the Palestinians. They say that the actions of those promoting BDS make the Palestinians appear disinterested in peace and co-existence with Israel. Indeed, in Ramallah, capital of the Palestinian entity, activists have succeeded in preventing several planned meetings between Israelis and Palestinians in that city and in Jerusalem. An official from the PA has stated that the BDS activists are radicals who are only interested in boycotting and deligitimising Israel, and that this is against the official policy of seeking a peace agreement with Israel based on the two-state solution.

The PA is worried too that BDS is harming the Palestinian relationship with other countries, and a recent example of this was an attempt to disrupt a performance by an Indian dance troupe in Ramallah… a tactic reminiscent of SPSC activity during performances of the Batsheva Dance Group in Edinburgh in recent years. During the Ramallah performance, which had been attended by senior PA officials, BDS activists protested against the presence of the dance troupe in Ramallah because its members had also performed in Tel Aviv. The result of the interruption was four men (Zeid Shuaibi, Abdel Jawad Hamayel, Fadi Quran and Fajr Harb) were detained by PA security forces and – had they shown up at court on the day – would have been tried by a PA court for ‘provoking riots and breach of public tranquility’.

The PA action against BDS activists shows that the movement is considered a threat to the interests of Palestine and emphasises what Mahmoud Abbas has said to journalists before: ‘No, we do not support the boycott of Israel’.

The aim of the prosecution of the four Ramallah activists has been to send a message to BDS supporters worldwide that the movement is acting against the true interests of the Palestinians and promoting hatred and bigotry. The question is of course whether or not BDS supporters around the world will take the message on board and reach the conclusion that by being anti-Israel and anti-Israeli, the BDS movement is also an anti-Palestinian and anti-peace movement.

Perhaps this is something for the SPSC to chew over during its annual summer outing in July, this year to the Gulabin Lodge, Glenshee, when they discuss the important issues that inform the nature of their solidarity with Palestinians.

Spot the irony: Palestine strikes a gas deal with Israel. Whaurs yer BDS noo ?

Activist groups like the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) behave in a manner far more ‘Palestinian’ than that of the ‘Palestinians’ themselves. While their futile boycott, disinvestment and sanctions strategies (BDS) continue to lose jobs for Palestinians in the West Bank and create new jobs for Israelis in Israel instead, the Palestinian leadership now actively encourages commercial links with Israel. What an unfortunate state of affairs for Mick Napier, his SPSC, and his bright-eyed, keffiyeh clad acolytes.

First we have, for example, Unilever moving its Bagel Factory from the West Bank to the ancient Jewish town of Safed in the Northern District of Israel, and the Swedish Mul-T-Lock firm (Assa Abloy) following suit and moving to Yavneh in the Israeli Central District – jobs, jobs, and jobs again for Israelis – and now we have a massive natural gas deal between the Palestine Authority’s electric company and the Israeli Leviathan group.

What has gone wrong with the BDS strategy? Whaurs yer BDS noo ?

Yes! the first buyer of natural gas from Israel’s largest gas field will be the Palestine Power Generation Company (PPGC), which will buy around $1.2-billion worth of gas over 20-years. The Israeli Leviathan Group (part owned by big the Delek Group in Israel) will sell the PPGC, which supplies power to Palestinian areas in the West Bank, as much as 4.75-billion cubic metres of gas when the Leviathan product begins to flow in 2016 or 2017.

The Palestinian company aims to build a $300-million power plant in the West bank city of Jenin to produce electricity from the gas. More jobs for Israelis given this new BDS busting commercial policy?

Furthermore… the Israeli Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom has recently travelled to Jordan to promote a gas deal there. (You will know Jordan of course. This was the first of the Arab Palestines to be created between 1922 and 1946). There are also plans to export to Europe and Turkey and Egypt.

Ouch SPSC!!! Ouch!!!… and again Ouch!!!

SPSC nut-jobs actually support Israeli employment !!!

It would seem that activist groups like the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) are far more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves. Indeed some of their boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigning has led to the loss of jobs for Palestinians in the West Bank and the creation of job-opportunities for Israelis in Israel instead. It isn’t just this blog that claims the futility of BDS and the futility of SPSC efforts, Bishara Shlayan, an Israeli Christian Arab from Nazareth, and many Palestinian businessmen and workers claim this too.

Shlayan is creating a new Arab political party in Israel and he believes that the EU boycott of Israeli businesses and institutions operating in the West Bank is counter-productive since this will mainly harm Arabs in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Palestinian businessmen and workers say that the EU’s new guidelines limiting co-operation with Jewish settlements, and the calls generally to boycott Israeli products made over the Green Line (the lines that existed pre-1967 War) are madness. The BDS campaigning totally ignores the fact that the settlement firms and Israeli industries operating in the West Bank allow Jew and Moslem Arab and Christian to work shoulder to shoulder, offer a chance for Israelis and Palestinians to work together, to talk to one another, and to trust one another.

A curious outcome of the EU decisions is that a number of firms have decamped from the West Bank and have opened in Israel instead. Among these are Unilever which moved its ‘Bagel-Bage’l factory from the West Bank to the ancient Jewish town of Safed in the Northern District of Israel, and Sweden’s ‘Mul-T-Lock’ firm which followed suit and moved its factory to Yavneh in the Central District.

This is an outcome that the fascist nut-jobs, gauleiters, and little student acolytes of the SPSC could never have imagined.

Anti-Israel idiocy: SPSC weekend – Ireland and TUI – Richard Falk

It would be timely to comment on two or three bits of idiocy over the past weeks emanating from, close to home, the SPSC (Scottish Palestine Solidarity Committee) set to have a bash-Israel summer weekend in June in Comrie (come on… Comrie!!… that den of left-wing politics in Perthshire!!!), from Ireland, that ‘neutral’ island of self-righteousness and smug self-satisfaction, and from further afield from the UN’s Human Rights Council, or at least from Richard Falk the so-called ‘Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967’.

Firstly though, let’s blitz Ireland which, presumably for historical ‘liberation’ reasons, tends to slavishly support any motley foreign political movement no matter its fascist intent, and where an ‘Exhibition of Palestinian Cigarette-ends’ would almost certainly be a sell-out. Recently, in a ludicrous anti-Israel vote at its annual conference in Galway, the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) voted to boycott all academic collaboration with Israel, including research programmes and exchanges of students. The TUI called on the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to increase its campaign for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. No… BDS isn’t an exotic form of bondage and sadism… The motion requests TUI members to cease all cultural and academic collaboration with Israel including the exchange of scientists, students and academic personalities, as well as all co-operation in research programmes.

I imagine on hearing this that there must be a lot of quaking-in-boots among Israeli scientists at the Technion near Haifa which is ranked alongside MIT, Stanford, Cambridge, Imperial College, and Oxford, as one of THE places to be for entrepreneurship and innovation. One would doubt if any of the research programmes at the Technion or at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for that matter have been anticipating collaboration with, for example, the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology GMIT, or with the Wexford Vocational College. Harsh? Well… wake up Ireland… you sound as ridiculous as Norway with all the ‘apartheid Israel’ nonsense. Anyone who visits Israel will see that Israeli Arabs (Moslems and Christians alike) have full rights in a country that has been consistently democratic for nearly 70 years – the only one in the whole Middle East that can claim this. Further… your TUI members appear to be quite happy to work in colleges with extensive academic links with great upholders of human rights such as Russia, China and Saudi Arabia.

Secondly, thinking about the idiocy from Richard Falk the ‘Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967’… Falk has held this post with the Human Rights Council (a UN body) since 2008, despite exposure as a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. In a rant after the Boston Marathon bombings, Falk stated that the police action in Boston was a ‘hysterical dragnet’, and that the Boston dead were ‘canaries’ that ‘have to die’ because of America’s ‘fantasy of global domination’. Falk went on to explain that the attacks were justifiable ‘resistance’. He minimised the crime and predicted worse if the US didn’t change its ways to better accommodate the demands of ‘the Islamic world’.

Falk has been preaching this kind of thing from his UN lectern for years and his world view is shared by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which refuses to reach a definition of terrorism. He also has the support of the much-discredited and anti-semitic convert to Islam, Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of Tony Blair. She has endorsed a blog claiming that the Boston bombing was staged.

Finally, the bash-Israel residential weekend in June to be held by members of the SPSC (the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Committee)… in… (yes… stifled laugh)… Comrie!!! Why not go the whole way and go to Crieff!!! As excitements go, there can be none better for an SPSC member than a bunk-house weekend in Comrie discussing ‘politics to sustain effective solidarity’ and where they can ‘take time to discuss and debate important issues that inform the nature of our solidarity with Palestinians’.

The exciting weekend of preaching to the converted will kick off with an evening film about the sports boycott against South African apartheid… doubtless cleverly overlain with images and clips of standoff between Israelis and Arabs. One can only imagine the frothy ‘debate’ after the film. Surely for ‘debate’ two views or standpoints at least are a pre-requisite? Next day, after breakfast, participants will enjoy ‘lessons from boycott actions against apartheid Israel’. They will be invited to learn how to harangue, shout and bawl so that they never have to listen to any opposing standpoint. After a break, it will be time to discuss ‘international aid to Palestine – who is it aiding?’ Now that one is easy… international aid to Palestine helps the missile brigades, arms smugglers, and the political elites. It doesn’t help the people, but rather makes them dependent subsidy junkies. Also on the agenda is ‘Scottish independence – what it could mean for Palestinian solidarity’. Hopefully absolutely nothing. Other excitements include: campaign worshops, discussion on ‘Zionism and settler colonialism’ and ‘Political prisoners’. Hmmm… insightful.

Wow… the SPSC really does know how to have a good time !